Is the Packers' offense better, worse or the same? Answer hinges on replacing Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari's return

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers’ offense can’t be better without Davante Adams, right? It can’t even be the same, can it? So it has to be worse.

That’s the easy assessment of an offense that lost an All-Pro receiver in his prime and didn’t add a marquee veteran or a first-round pick at the position.

But there’s more to coach Matt LaFleur’s offense than just the quarterback and his receivers. In his first three years as coach, he’s wisely featured Aaron Rodgers and Adams. But his playbook is loaded with plans for his running backs and tight ends that have not yet been fully explored.

So rather than just picking one of those three options –- better, worse or the same -– for the entire offense, a more accurate answer might come from a position-by-position breakdown.

Here’s a look at each group on offense with an answer to that question:


Returners: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

Losses: Kurt Benkert

Additions: Danny Etling

Better, worse or the same? Better

Rodgers is happy, Love has some real-game experience and Etling appears to be at least as good -- if not better -- as a No. 3 option than Benkert. While the three-year, $150 million contract extension Rodgers signed in March doesn’t guarantee he will play that long, he said he will undoubtedly finish his career with the Packers. That gives him a peace of mind he didn’t have at the start of last season, when he opened the season with a dud of a performance in the blowout loss to the Saints. He quickly rebounded to his MVP level, and his play the rest of last season offered no indication that a significant decline was imminent.


Returners: Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor, Juwann Winfree

Losses: Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown

Additions: Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure, Danny Davis

Better, worse or the same? Worse

Yes, the Packers won all seven games that Adams missed over the past three seasons, but that doesn’t mean they’re better -- or even the same -- without one of the top receivers in the league. They also lost their deep threat in Valdes-Scantling, who left for a bigger payday ($10 million a year) with the Chiefs. Over the past four seasons, Adams was targeted on 31% of his routes, the highest rate by any wide receiver in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Between Adams and Valdes-Scantling, the Packers lost two of their three most-targeted receivers from last season. There are question marks about everyone else left in the group. Is Lazard ready to make the jump to WR1? Can Cobb stay healthy? Will Amari Rodgers put a bad rookie year behind him? Does Watkins have anything left? And will any of the three draft picks (Watson, Doubs and Toure) be able to make an immediate impact?

Running backs

Returners: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor, Kylin Hill

Losses: None

Additions: Tyler Goodson, B.J. Baylor

Better, worse or the same? The same

The only question is how LaFleur and new offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich will use Jones and Dillon. Or perhaps they will use them together. Dillon seems poised for an even bigger role but not at the expense of the dynamic Jones. They combined for 1,602 rushing yards last season (803 for Dillon and 799 for Jones, who missed two games), but Jones had a much bigger role in the passing game (52 catches for 391 yards and six touchdown catches). Hill is coming off a late-October ACL tear, and if he’s not ready for the opener, Taylor is a decent RB3 option.

Tight ends

Returners: Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis, Dominique Dafney

Losses: None

Additions: Eli Wolf, Alize Mack

Better, worse or the same? Worse

It’s worse until Tonyan is back. Week 1 remains a possibility, but everything in his rehab from the late-October ACL tear would have to go smoothly. Lewis, 38, keeps defying age, but at some point he will inevitably break down. Davis is an intriguing prospect who joined the team midway through last year but lacks experience.

Offensive line

Returners: David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Jon Runyan, Royce Newman, Josh Myers, Yosh Nijman, Cole Van Lanen, Jake Hanson

Losses: Billy Turner, Lucas Patrick, Dennis Kelly

Additions: Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom, Rasheed Walker, Caleb Jones, Cole Schneider, Michal Menet, George Moore

Better, worse or the same? Worse

Bakhtiari is the key to the entire line. If he’s finally back from his Dec. 31, 2020, ACL tear -- and that remains a question after he played just 27 snaps all of last season -- then the rest of the line should fall in place. Jenkins, who tore an ACL last November, might not be back for the start of the season, but when he returns, he could either go back to left guard (where he was a Pro Bowler in 2020) or move to right tackle in place of Turner, who was a salary-cap cut. Turner and Patrick combined to play more than 1,700 snaps last season. The uncertainty of both Bakhtiari and Jenkins lining up together for the season opener makes this line a question mark.